Bruins gain a split with 3-0 win over Coyotes

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Bruins gain a split with 3-0 win over Coyotes

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

PRAGUE -- The games were only 19 hours apart. But somehow it looked like Boston flew a completely different team out to Prague for the rematch.

Summary and statistics

The Bruins followed up Saturday's season-opening loss, in which they were too often loose defensively and punchless offensively, with a solid effort in all phases that resulted in a 3-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.

"I'm not sure I would have been happy with this trip had we not won a game," said coach Claude Julien. "It would have been a real disappointment."

But they were anything but disappointed after Sunday's game. In fact, they even had a highlight-reel moment, courtesy of rookie Tyler Seguin.

Midway through the third period, goalie Tim Thomas cleared the puck to Michael Ryder, who found Seguin streaking up through the neutral zone. The young center took the pass behind the Phoenix defense, broke in on goalie Ilya Brygalov with a defender closing in from behind, and put home a laser shot as he and the two Coyotes crashed into the net.

"It's always fun to see rookies score their first goal,'' Julien said. "And at least he can remember that one as being a real nice goal. I thought it was a great move."

That made it 3-0, but the outcome was pretty well decided by that point.

Boston dominated play throughout a scoreless first period and finally broke through against Brygalov midway through the second. Nathan Horton poked the puck away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and spotted Milan Lucic streaking toward the goal. Lucic got the pass and fired home a 25-foot slapper.

Boston scored again with just 33 seconds left in the period. Mark Recchi stole the puck in the 'Yotes defensive zone and tipped it to Horton in front of the crease. Horton spun, fired a wrister left, and found the back of the net.

Thomas looked vintage Vezina in that controlled chaos of his.

"It feels great,'' he said. "It's been a long road and to be fortunate enough to get a shutout off the bat, to have the team play that well in front of you, to get all the bounces and feel pretty comfortable myself . . . it couldn't have gone much better.''

The Bruins goalie, helped by a stifling defense, made eight solid stops in the second period. Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart split half of the team's 12 blocked shots.

"I'm sure Tuukka's standing there wishing he had the same team in front of him as Timmy had tonight," Julien said, referring to the tepid defensive play of the B's on Saturday in front of Tuukka Rask.

Indeed, Boston's intensity was ramped up from the start.

Unlike the flat affect of the opener, the B's were hot off the opening faceoff in the rematch. The first Boston shot on net came after less than a minute and the Bruins had nine more, as well, before the midway point of the period.

But Brygalov, despite short rest, was up to the task. The goalie turned aside 15 excellent Boston chances in the first twenty minutes, and kept it up most of the day. The Bruins, however, kept battling and eventually broke through.

"I wouldn't look at our team as much as I would look at the goaltender on the other side who has been credited last year with their success,'' Julien said. "Obviously these two games here he certainly made it hard for us but we got some goals past him.''

Thomas made 26 saves for the shutout.

"We needed these two points to make it a successful trip and leave a good taste in our mouths. The whole trip has been so fantastic up until the loss yesterday," Boston's netminder said. "It sure feels good to get those two points in the bank and now we can go home with our chins up, feeling good about ourselves.''

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

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Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto. 

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.